BRUSSELS - The EU launched a public consultation on the fake news phenomenon Monday, the first step in a process that could see the promotion of bogus news stories made illegal in Europe.
The move comes amid increasing worry that Russia has devised misleading social media activity to promote destabilising political stances in the EU, such as Brexit, and influence national elections.
Russia denies all involvement, but is also facing a wave of scrutiny in the United States over a suspected disinformation campaign on Facebook that allegedly helped put reality TV star Donald Trump in the White House.
"We live in an era where the flow of information and misinformation has become almost overwhelming," European Commission Vice President Frans Timmermans said in a statement calling for feedback from the public.
"That is why we need to give our citizens the tools to identify fake news, improve trust online, and manage the information they receive," he said.
The goal of the consultation will be to establish if current laws and self-governing efforts by Facebook, Twitter and others are enough to stop "fake news".
The commission is also inviting experts and academics to join a high-level group to advise on next steps.
The objective is "to better understand the rationale and possible directions for action at EU and/or national level," the commission said.
Respondents have until February 23 to share their perspective ahead of a new EU "fake news" strategy to be announced next spring.
The consultation can be found here